“Trust Yourself. You Know More Than You Think You Do”
The last blog post I wrote about running, it was going great! I had been following my marathon training plan to the T, and had been able to run 5 miles fast, a hard run, below marathon pacing. After I wrote that blog post, what has always happened before, happened. I got hurt.
It was my right Achilles tendon. I have never had a problem with my Achilles. But a few days after that intense run, it ached to where it hurt to walk, let alone run.
I was going to Seattle in a few days on vacation, and decided to just let it rest and heal. But my mind was turning.
Every time I get hurt running, it’s because I push it too much. I even kind of know when I’m pushing it too much. This time, I wanted it to be different.
I felt up to this point, I needed an “official marathon training plan.” It’s a long distance to run. It’s hard. If you are not conditioned right, and haven’t trained right, it’s likely you won’t be able to finish. I have high goals. I don’t want to just finish- I want to excel. So I have felt like I needed to get “serious” about an official plan.
It was going so well- up until it wasn’t.
I felt like my Achilles would heal up with some rest, but in the mean time, I’m losing time running, I really don’t have. Or I don’t have if I follow the “official marathon training plan.” I started to allow myself to think, “what happens if I don’t follow it?”
My first thought: Fear. Scared I won’t finish. I’ll get so close, but won’t be trained properly, tire out, and not be able to finish the marathon.
After I analyzed that, I asked myself if I really thought that would happen.
Knowing me, I’d walk fast, just to finish it, if I was really too tired to keep running. I thought about when I finished my first half marathon, just two days earlier I had been cleared by the doctor, coming off my broken elbow and surgery, to run. I thought surely I was going to have to walk some in that, and I never did, and finished 30 minutes faster than I had thought I would, barely even being able to run for months leading up to it.
That gave me some confidence. As I started thinking about it, I narrowed it down to this:
Do I trust myself? Can I take the leap of faith, and ditch an “official marathon training plan” that is hurting me, is not optimal for me, and train myself for the marathon, trusting myself, who I am as a runner, my body, my strengths, and my limits?
I honestly couldn’t answer that for a few days. I struggled. It’s easy to follow a script on what you “are supposed to do.” If it doesn’t work, it was because the plan was flawed.
If I go on my own and fail, that is on me. No excuses, no out’s- it’s because I didn’t train enough and thought I knew enough but really didn’t.
On the other hand, I realized what good is it going to do if I can run according to an “official marathon training plan,” but am injured and can’t run because I’m too battered up? An Achilles today, a knee tomorrow, a hip next month.
One thing I could conclude is I do know me. I do know what my body tolerates. I know how to find a way to excel during races. I don’t have to plummet my body in the weeks and months before. I have given every race I’ve ever ran, all I have. I don’t doubt that in me at all. I am confident I can find a way to excel and push myself when I need to.
When I placed in the only race I’ve ever placed in, it was so hot and humid. It had rained right before the race. It was mid July, at 6 PM. And then the sun came out. This was in a competitive division too. I had trained in 100 degree heat, up hill for months to train for this race. I had run in every condition known to man- except the one Colorado, rarely has, severe humidity. This was the first time I was running where the air was so heavy, I could not breathe.
Half way through the race, I really could not breathe. I had to stop and walk a few paces to catch my breath. I thought, no way was I going to be “fast,” no one stops in an elite division race to walk. I’m sure this was never in an “official elite division race plan.” Yet, I knew I had to, or else I would not finish. I trusted myself in that moment, in that race, to do what I needed to do.
Turns out I placed 2nd! Even with walking a few paces. There were runners right behind me at the end- I sped up, because I could breathe. I am sure I would not have finished as strong as I did, had I not walked a few paces. My instincts had been right on. I trusted myself, my body, and what I needed to do in that race. It is still something I’m still most proud of in my running- placing in an elite division.
I’ve thought about this for over a week, and as I was leaving Seattle, I had made my decision.
I’m trusting me. I’m trusting after 7 years running, I know what kind of runner I am. I need to train and run yes- but I can do that without hurting myself, sticking to a plan that my body isn’t tolerating. I’m ditching the “official marathon training plan” and training myself.
I put some ideas together on how I can train smarter, and harder without risking injury.
First off, is to heal my Achilles. I focused the majority of my training last week, doing what I did when I had a broken elbow. Riding stationary bike at the almost highest inclines for 5 and 10 miles. It keeps building my endurance without risking further Achilles injury.
Two weeks ago, when my Achilles was feeling better, I put it to the test and ran 3 miles. It felt better, not perfect, but enough I knew I was on the right track.
A few days later, I ran 5 miles. I had some calf pain associated with the tight Achilles. I stopped for a few moments, and massaged my calves, easing out some tightness, and finished the run.
I was less than 2 minutes off from pace- less than two minutes slower than the run that had hurt me. I wasn’t even trying for time- I was just trying to see how my Achilles would hold up with some distance. It was fine after the run, and feels better every day.
So I feel like I’m on track. I feel like I’ll be right where I need to be, when I need to be there.
I’m realizing the marathon training- it is more rigorous than just running. But it’s teaching me what I need to learn and to be prepared for.
I never imagined I’d have to learn at this point, it’s about trusting myself. I couldn’t even post this post for a week, while I figured out what I needed to do. I decided I can do this, and I believe in me.
Since I wrote this post, I was up to running 10 miles again, feeling like I was back on track, and not only was I going to make my goal in Las Vegas, but exceed it. And then, this past Saturday, the unthinkable happened. It’s been very discouraging to me. I am still processing and will write about this next week.
I’m fine long term- short term- I don’t know. I’m asking myself every day, “how much do I want this?”